In 80-minutes of rugby, the Chiefs’ Super Rugby season will be defined by the amount of faith they have in their expansive style of rugby against a Stormers side hungry to perform against the best.
The Waikato-based club has had two disappointing seasons since their back-to-back championship run in 2012/13. Players have come and gone, but Dave Rennie‘s respect from his players and reputation as one of the best coaches within World Rugby has become unquestionable.
Last week, the Chiefs failed to take advantage of an early lead over the Highlanders. Rennie will be scratching his head and asking himself why the teams Second Half performances are so lackluster? James Lowe dropped the ball in a try-scoring position and Stephen Donald couldn’t provide any impact off the bench late in the game. All told, the Chiefs lost to the Highlanders again and it continues a poor run of results against the men from the deep south.
Chiefs Must Be Wary Of Hungry Stormers
The Stormers have won their last four games on the trot. The Chiefs have scrambled to the playoffs, winning just two of their last four.
2016 was again a year of injuries for the Chiefs. The latest has seen in form midfielder Seta Tamanivalu suffer a knee injury. This will see Stephen Donald play at No.12 for one of the first times, a sure fire gamble from Rennie. Many would have assumed Andrew Horrell would fill the gap, but he wasn’t considered for selection. Aaron Cruden (main picture) will help orchestrate victory for the visitors in this season defining game.
Cruden knows his team will need to deal with the sudden-death nature of the clash. “If you lose you go home. That does influence your game –you tend to take less risks. In saying that you do not want to curb the boys. “The positive mindset for us has really worked thus far” he told ESPN.
But Dave Rennie knows just as well as the players do, the season’s ups and downs thus far don’t mean a thing on Saturday afternoon in Cape Town. It is sudden death. The Stormers haven’t played a New Zealand Super Rugby side this year. Some would argue that this places a big advantage to the Chiefs–arguably the best attacking team in the competition.
As the Waikato Times’ Aaron Goile reported earlier this week, despite recent form, the Chiefs go into this quarter final as the far superior side. Placed sixth in the overall standings, the Chiefs have scored 68 tries this season. The Stormers finished top of the South African 2 conference, but their coach Robbie Fleck has slammed SANZAAR for the confusing format of the competition this year.
The kiwi sides have shown they are the best in the competition. Their skill is of the highest quality and you want to match yourself against the best throughout the year.
Chiefs Vying For Semi Final In New Zealand
Should the Chiefs win in Cape Town, they would travel back to New Zealand to play a semi final. If the Crusaders beat the Lions, the Chiefs would have to return to Dunedin and once again take on the formidable Highlanders on their home ground.
For the most exciting side in Super Rugby this season, the Chiefs face a massive challenge in their quarter final clash against the Stormers. For the record: the last time the sides met, Rennie’s men came out 28-19 winners. The Chiefs Super Rugby Season comes down to the next 80 minutes of rugby.
But beware the unknown–the Stormers have finally got their chance to play a New Zealand side, and they’ll be desperate to make a ‘big statement’.
“Main photo credit”